I’ve had to cut chunks of turf out of the plot sporadically throughout the last year and I’ve learnt that there are easy ways and hard ways of doing this…
Marking out what needs to be cut
Some time needs to be allocated into measuring what needs to be cut and marking that out with a string line or something to cut along.
When I started on the second side of the plot, I foolishly didn’t measure and mark out the plot lengthways.
As a result and as you’ll see, I cut the lengths of the wood for the borders to match the length of the previous border…
This wouldn’t be a problem if everything in the world was perfectly measured and straight. However, alas it’s not – but it’s good to have at least one straight line to work to.
Making the first vertical (length) cut(s)
Start by making the cuts, along the longest length of where you’re going to be removing the turf – in this case, it’s the length along the string line.
A top top, when doing this is to pick your moment wisely. If it’s raining the night before, and the weather is good the next day, then choose the afternoon to do your turf cutting.
I’ve found that if it’s too wet, then the sods of grass are too heavy – but too dry and it’s hard to cut through.
Making first horizontal (width) cut(s)
Perpendicular to the long cut, make lots of cuts, that create little chunks of turf – light lift the grass chunks as you go – this will make it easier later on.
This should only be the width of your spade.
Make another vertical cut…again
You can see where this is going… Chop another vertical line so that you’re creating chunks of turf.
As before, slightly lift the cuts to lift out the chunks from the ground.
Once that’s done, you’ll be repeating the next two steps until you reach the the end of the section you’re looking to cut out.
Lifting and removing the turf
Having made all the cuts, the turf should be relatively easy to lift up with the spade.
In some cases, I was able to pull up the chunks by hand one by one.
I generally find this method a lot easier than trying to cut and lift one huge roll of turf – mainly because rolls of turf tend to be heavier in one big piece.
Old turf usage
The old turf that you dig up will make for great compost. The way to compost turf is to lay it in evenly, grass side down over the top of your compost bin.
It’ll take some months to break down, but once broken, should produce a nice composted consistency. Because this load has essentially topped up my first crate of compost, I’ll be looking to use this compost in the late summer of next year.
I’ve since places a mulch of grass cutting and leaves on to of crate to reduct sunlight to the heap, and reduce the chances of anything growing from the top of it.
There’s no doubt you’ll also move the odd worm here and there into your compost bin and this will also help with decomposition.
And that’s all there is to it 🙂